Sears Art Gallery features pastels in upcoming exhibit

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By Breanna Opdahl

From southern Utah landscapes to portraits of average Joe’s, Dixie State University’s Dolores Dore’ Eccles Fine Arts Center will exhibit “Beauty By Grace: Pastels” in the Sears Art Gallery.

The artist reception and opening for “Beauty By Grace: Pastels” will be Dec. 5 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., featuring a performance by the St. George Dance Company. The exhibit will be on display until Jan. 21. It will be open free to the public Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and closed during holidays.

The gallery will exhibit the work of nine artists, from pastel watercolor paintings to sculptures. “Beauty By Grace: Pastels” is an educational exhibit that will introduce portrait and landscape pastels to a wide audience.

“We have a list of artists that are internationally and certainly nationally known,” art curator Kathy Cieselewicz said.

According to a press release, the featured artists have claimed many awards for their work and are included in corporate, library and numerous private and public collections.

Carol Harding, an artist from Pleasant Grove, will present a landscape pastel titled “Deep Purple,” which offers a sight familiar to St. George locals: red rock mountains at twilight.

“I am grateful to be included in this art show that has a title that describes the medium of pastels in such a unique way,” Harding said. “Deep Purple is one of those mysterious places. Located south-east of the late Maynard Dixon’s old art studio, I found a scene that seemed to tell a story of an artist that must have frequented that path into the unknown.”

The sculptures featured in the exhibit are intricately carved and painted gourds by local artist Kolene Granger.

“Her gourds are beautiful, and she has done all kinds of styles and content,” Cieselewicz said.

Granger holds gourd-carving sessions in her home studio, which is open for neighbors and friends to experience gourd crafting. Gourds carved by Granger’s friends and neighbors are available for viewing in the Grand Foyer of the Sears Art Gallery.

St. George local Lisa Huber will also present her watercolor series, “Trees of Life” in the Grand Foyer. Huber said her work in “Beauty By Grace: Pastels” reflects the exhibit’s theme through paintings about life experiences of trees.

“Trees can tell us a lot about ourselves — what we feel and how we affect others around us,” Huber said. “My pieces in this show are unique for two reasons: They use a process I’ve enhanced that combines oil and watercolor paints together on watercolor paper, creating a soft, textured effect, and my interpretation of trees evokes human situations and characteristics in the viewer.”

Pastel artist Amy Davis said she expresses the exhibit’s theme by depicting the everyday person.

“I’m not interested in making the popular any more popular,” Davis said. “The people in my paintings are family and friends. Even if they aren’t, they are everyday people who [are] putting the work in that most people can relate to. When you do that, it celebrates them as well.”

Arlene Braithwaite, a well-known landscape pastel painter from Cedar City, stated on her website, arlenebraithwaite.fineartstudioonline.com: “My work is inspired by the land around me, a subject I find continually changing, challenging and rich with catalysts for composition. Pastel is attractive to me because of its immediacy.”

BYU instructor and artist Robert Barrett, who is also featuring pastels in the art gallery, said artists tend to do things that reflect their personalities.

From hand crafted gourds to the everyday worker, “Beauty By Grace: Pastels” depicts a little bit of every kind of beauty.